The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Third Day: Tuesday, 25th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 150]

DR. NELTE (counsel for defendant Keitel): Mr. President, I should like to advise the Tribunal that the first half of the manuscript of my final defence speech in typescript will be ready tomorrow, and the second half by next Saturday. I am sorry to say that I personally can furnish only eight copies, six of which are earmarked for the interpreters to facilitate their difficult task. I am sorry that I could not furnish more copies, since I personally have no mimeographing machine. I hope the Tribunal will appreciate the fact that after the statement made by the Chief Prosecutor for the United States on Friday, I cannot make any claims on the technical assistance of the prosecution.

Therefore, I am asking the Tribunal to decide whether it would be worth while, in order to expedite the presentation, to have the translation of my speech put before them. In this event, I would request that the necessary arrangements be made. I am prepared to place my manuscript at the disposal of the Tribunal, under the conditions announced by you, Mr. President. What applies to me personally would, so far as I am advised, apply also to the rest, at least to the majority of the defence counsel. In order to expedite the proceedings and to reduce the time spent on the presentation of the final defence speeches, it is important to have this point clarified.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, if you would hand in the manuscript to which you have referred, the Tribunal will make arrangements to have it translated into the various languages. I think that will meet the position so far as you are concerned.


THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has an announcement upon the subject, which I am about to read. The announcement is this:

"In view of the discussion which took place on 13th June, 1946, on the question of time to be taken by defence counsel, the Tribunal has given the matter further consideration.

When the defence counsel stated the time they wished to take, the Tribunal observed that some of the defendants required more time than others, and to this extent they did make an apportionment among themselves. The Tribunal feels that the suggested times are much too long and some voluntary restriction should be made.

Except as to a few of the defendants whose cases are of very wide scope, the Tribunal is of the opinion that half a day to each defendant is ample time for the presentation of his defence, and the Tribunal hopes that counsel will condense their arguments and limit themselves voluntarily to this time. The Tribunal, however, will not permit counsel for any defendant to deal with irrelevant matters or to speak for more than one day in any case. Four hours will be allowed at the beginning for argument on the general questions of law and fact, and counsel should co-operate in their arguments in such a way as to avoid needless repetition."

I am told that one part of the announcement that I was making came through in an incorrect shape on some of the translations; so I will read it again.

[Page 151]

"Except as to a few of the defendants whose cases are of very wide scope, the Tribunal is of the opinion that half a day to each defendant is ample time for the presentation of his defence; and the Tribunal hopes that counsel will condense their arguments and limit themselves voluntarily to this time. The Tribunal, however, will not permit counsel for any defendant to deal with irrelevant matters or to speak for more than one day in any case. Four hours will be allowed at the beginning for argument on the general questions of law and fact, and counsel should co-operate in their arguments in such a way as to avoid needless repetition."
As heretofore stated, the Tribunal would like to have a translation of each argument in French, Russian and English submitted at the beginning of the argument. Counsel may arrange for the translation themselves if they so desire, but if they will submit copies of their arguments to the Translating Department, as soon as possible, and not less than three days in advance of delivery, the translation will be made for them, and the contents of the copies will not be disclosed.

That is all.

Yes, Dr. Ludinghausen.




Q. Last night we had stopped in our treatment of the various points raised by the prosecution. I should like to continue now and to put the following question to you, Herr von Neurath.

The prosecution is charging you with the fact that in the Protectorate, Germans had a preferential position as compared with Czechs, and that you were responsible for that. Will you please comment on this?

A. The position of Germans in the Protectorate was not a preferential position in any way connected with any real preference and advantages as compared with the Czechs, but it was an entirely different one. The Germans had become citizens of the Reich, and, therefore, had the rights of Reich citizens, such as the right to vote in Reichstag elections. The Czechs did not have this right to vote, which is understandable in view of the existing difference ... variance between the German people and the Czech people. There were at no time any actual advantages connected with the position of the Germans in the Protectorate.

Efforts to have preferential treatment were made, of course, in the Chauvinistic party and in Nationalist circles. But I always fought them with all intensity and prevented any practical realization of such efforts. In this connection, however, I should like to stress once more that the Czech people did not consider themselves inferior to the German people in any way. It was a question simply of a different people, which had to be treated, politically and culturally, according to its own characteristics. That was also the reason for the maintenance of the so-called autonomy, which meant nothing more than the separation of the two nationalities with a view towards securing their own way of living for the Czechs, and it is evident that this autonomy had to be kept within certain limits, necessary for the Reich as a whole, especially in times of war.

Q. Now, I should like to deal with the individual points raised by the Czech prosecution, or rather the points found in the Czech report, which is the basis for this charge. In this report, it is asserted that the freedom of the Press was suppressed. Is that correct, and what role did Herr von Gregory play in this connection?

A. Herr von Gregory was the Press attache at the German Embassy in Prague, and was subordinate to the Propaganda Ministry. Then he came, as chief of my Press department, to my administration and controlled the Czech Press, according to the directives of the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin. The Czech Press, of course,

[Page 152]

was not free, any more than the German Press. Control of circulation, and other measures, especially censorship measures, were the same.

Q. The Czech prosecution report further raises the charge that the local Czech administrative offices were in many cases dissolved, and then were set up again with officials and town councillors who were German or Czech collaborators. Is that correct?

A. These were communities with a considerable German minority. That they also had a representation in the local administration seems to me a natural thing. Prague, for instance, had a Czech mayor and a German assistant mayor. This could hardly be objected to. As regards the ambition of the Germans in the various cities or localities to take a part in the local administration to an extent that did not seem justified by their numerical strength, I worked against this and objected to it. In the municipal administrations of purely Czech districts, such as in West Bohemia, there were generally no German representatives at all. But, on the other hand, there were German-speaking enclaves such as the region of Iglau where the Germans were dominant in numbers, and thus, of course, in influence as well.

Q. The Czech prosecution report accuses you of having in this way, and through the appointment of higher land councillors (Oberlandrat) - Germanised the Czech administration, and this report bases its accusations on a statement which you allegedly made to the former Bohemian Landesprasident, Bienert, in which you said: "All that has to be digested in two years' time."

A. I do not recall having made such a statement, nor can I imagine having uttered it. Here we are concerned with the co-ordination of the Czechs ... of the Czechs with the German administration. The Oberlandrat were not appointed by me, but their office was created as a controlling factor by the Reich Government by the decree of 1st September, 1939, in connection with the setting up of German administrations and the security police. When the Oberlandrat appeared before me to give their reports, I told them time and again that they were not to do any administrative work themselves, but were to supervise only. The Czech method of administration was frequently superior to the German, I told them.

Q. In this case I should like to refer to Document 149 of my document book, the decree on the organization of the administration and the German Security Police, dated 1st September, 1939. In paragraphs 5 and 6, the appointment and the duties of these Oberlandrat are described more in detail. A quotation of this document might be superfluous.

The Czech report further contains a statement by Herr Bienert, to the effect that on the problem of the co-ordination of the Czech administration, you had remarked to him something like: "That must be carried out strictly; after all, this is war." At the same time, Bienert stated in his interrogation that the purpose of this measure, that is, the co-ordination of the Czech and the German administration, had been to assure Germany of a peaceful hinterland during the war. Will you kindly also comment on this.

A. It is possible that I told Bienert something along these lines, but I cannot remember it at this date. It can, however, be taken for granted that in the sphere of administration, as in every other sphere in the Protectorate also, the necessities of war were the main concern. Restrictions of the autonomy in the Czech land administration have to be considered from this point of view. That it was my constant endeavour to keep the country quiet in the interest of the Reich, and thereby in the interest of all, can hardly be held against me. Apart from that, I should like to remark that the introduction of restrictions on the autonomy was already contained explicitly in the decree setting up the Protectorate.

Q. In this connection, I should like to refer to the order contained in my Document Book 5, under No. 144. The order was issued by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and is dated 16th March, 1939. Under Article II it was even then stipulated that the Reich

[Page 153]

could incorporate departments of the administration of the Protectorate into its own administration. The Czech prosecution further refers to a statement made by the former Czech Minister Havelka, dealing with the persecution of the members of the Czech Legionnaires of the First World War, in so far as they held public office. What can you tell us about this question of the Legionnaires?

A. The Czech Legion had been formed in Russia during the First World War. It was composed partially of volunteers, partially of what remained of Czech regiments which had belonged to the old Austro-Hungarian Army, and had become prisoners of war in Russia. These Czech Legionnaires enjoyed a certain exceptional position after the founding of the Czech Republic. In part, they were filled with strong Chauvinistic resentment toward the Reich, which dated back to the time of the nationalities' fights. This, the so- called Legionnaire mentality, was a catchword in Bohemia, and in times of political unrest, it could signify a certain political danger. Furthermore, this favoured position which the Legionnaires enjoyed was fought extensively in the Protectorate by the Czechs themselves. Therefore an effort was made, and by Frank particularly, to remove the Legionnaires from public office. But this took place only in extreme cases, and only in so far as these Legionnaires had joined the Czech Legion voluntarily, that is, it did not apply to those who had been members of the former Austro- Hungarian Army. From the very beginning, I tried to make this distinction, which approximately corresponds to the distinction which today is made in Germany between the voluntary members of the SS and the Waffen SS.

Q. The Czech prosecution is further accusing you of having supported the Czech Fascist organization Vlayka. It bases this charge on a memorandum which you yourself wrote concerning a discussion which you had with Hacha, the President of Czechoslovakia, on 26th March, 1940. According to this memorandum you told Hacha that the personal and moral qualities of the Vlayka leaders were well known to you, but, in any case, you had to confirm the fact that this movement, this organization, was the only one which had taken a positive stand towards the Reich and towards collaboration with the Reich. What were the circumstances here?

A. The Vlayka Movement was the same as the collaborationists in France. This movement worked to bring about a German- Czech collaboration, and had, in fact, been doing so long before the Protectorate was established. But the leaders of this movement were, in my opinion, rather dubious characters, as I showed in the words to Hacha quoted above. These leaders threatened and slandered President Hacha and members of the Czech Government among others. State Secretary Frank bad known these men from previous days and had always wanted to support them because of their co- operation at that time with him. However, I refused to do this, just as I refused the various applications of these people to visit me.

On the other hand, it is possible that Frank supported them from a fund which Hitler had placed at his disposal without my knowledge, and which Frank was under obligation not to tell me anything about.

Q. What attitude, now, did you take to the dissolution of parties, of political parties, and of trade unions?

A. That was, like the control of the Press, a necessity which resulted from the system, from the political system of the Reich. In any event, through this step taken by President Hacha, and despite the measures taken by Germany, no country suffered so little from the war as the Protectorate. The Czech people were the only ones in Middle and Eastern Europe who could retain their national, cultural and economic entity almost to its full extent.

Q. Now I should like to turn to the point raised by the prosecution which is concerned with an alleged cultural suppression. What can you tell us about the handling of Czech educational affairs?

A. The Czech universities and other institutions of higher education, as has been stated before, were closed by Hitler's order in November, 1939. Again and

[Page 154]

again, at the request of President Hacha and of the Protectorate Government, I appealed directly to Hitler to have these schools reopened. But, because of the dominating position of Herr Himmler, I had no success. The consequence of the closing of the universities, of course, was that a large number of young people who otherwise would have become university students now had to look for work of a manual sort. The closing of the institutions of higher learning had also repercussions on the secondary school level. This had already been heavily burdened after the separation of the Sudetenland in the autumn of 1938, for the entire Czech intelligentsia from this region had returned to the Czech- speaking area, or what became later the Protectorate. Hence, for the young people from the secondary schools there was hardly any employment left. It was about the same situation which is now appearing in Germany. Concerning the closing of Czech lower schools and other planned efforts to restrict Czech youth in their cultural freedom and their educational possibilities, I know nothing.

Q. Did you yourself approve of the closing of Czech institutions of higher learning ordered by Hitler?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, he said that he tried to intervene and get rid of Hitler's order.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: If that is sufficient for the Tribunal then he need not answer the question further.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you not think that is sufficient?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, I just wanted to have it expressed once again in a somewhat stronger way; however, if the Tribunal is satisfied with the clarification of this problem, I am completely satisfied.

THE PRESIDENT: It would not make it any better if it was said twice.

DR: VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, if you ... but it is sufficient.


Q. Do you know anything about an alleged plan, mentioned in the Czechoslovak Government report, to turn the Czech people into a mass of workers and to rob them of their spiritual elite?

A. No. Only an insane person could have made a statement like that.

Q. The Czechoslovak report asserts that through your agencies, that is, with your consent and endorsement, destruction and plundering of Czech scientific institutions took place. On Page 58 of the German text, Page 55 of the English text of this report, Exhibit USSR 60, it says:

"The Germans seized all colleges and students' hostels. They immediately seized the valuable apparatus, instruments and scientific equipment in many of the occupied institutions. The scientific libraries were systematically and methodically damaged. Scientific books and films were extracted and taken away, the archives of the Academic Senate (the highest university authority) were torn up or burned, and the card indexes destroyed and scattered."
What can you tell us in regard to this?

A. In this connection, I can only say that I never heard of any plundering and destruction of the sort described, either in Prague or later. The Czech Hochschulen, or institutions of higher education, were closed with the university in the year 1939 by Hitler's order. The buildings and installations of the Prague Czech University, as far as I know, were partly put at the disposal of the German University which had been closed earlier by the Czechs, since, after the Czech Hochschulen were closed, they could not be used any longer for Czech scientific purpose.

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